Jones asks Corps to allot more
money for Oregon Inlet
Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., has called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
to allocate additional funding to dredge Eastern North Carolina’s
In a letter to Assistant Secretary of the
Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy and Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick at the
Army Corps of Engineers, Jones explained that the inlet’s main channel
has shoaled from its authorized depth of 14 feet to under 3 feet in
Furthermore, the $800,000
provided for the project in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget
request has already been spent. As a result, the jobs and
economic impact related to the inlet are in serious peril.
While Congress no longer has the ability to legislatively
increase funding for specific projects because of an earmark ban
imposed in 2011, Congress did attempt to address some of the waterway
maintenance issues across the nation in the recently-passed omnibus
Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations bill.
In that bill,
Congress created several unallocated pots of money for different
project categories, and gave the Corps a list of criteria to use in
determining which projects to fund from these pots.
his letter to the Corps’ top two leaders, Jones made the case that
Oregon Inlet is exactly type of project that Congress had in mind when
it provided the Corps with these additional pots of money. He
also laid out exactly how Oregon Inlet meets the criteria for project
selection established by Congress.
Two of the project categories
include navigation maintenance, which has $45 million in additional
funding, and "small, remote, or subsistence navigation," which has
Jones cites an economic study that showed that,
even in 2013 with the channel shoaled for much of the year, Oregon
Inlet supported 4,384 jobs and provided $548 million in annual economic
impact. He said that if the channel were maintained, it is estimated
that the inlet 5,397 jobs and provide $693 in annual economic impact.
congressman also notes that Dare County and the state are working on a
plan to fund ongoing pro-active maintenance dredging using their own
funds. The letter raises the possibility that if the channel were
dredged to its authorized dimensions, the county and the state may be
able to take on some future maintenance.
“The maintenance of the
Oregon Inlet is vital to the economic success of Eastern North
Carolina,” said Jones. “Fishermen, recreational boaters and the
Coast Guard must have reliable access through the inlet, and I will
continue to do everything I can to fight for that cause.”
Jones has also asked for more funding for Morehead City harbor.
Click here to read the letter to the Army Corps from Congressman Jones.